Many of you know I have a two man acoustic band named Dough! We have been playing together for almost 15 years. I had booked jobs for January and March, and then Mark informed me he needed a break. I called the place to let them know and they said “Could you do it solo?”, so not wanting to let them down, I said “Yes.” It was a short and early gig at a wine bar (from 6-8pm).
Living in Illinois, the weather is always a dicey crap shoot. As I was packing up, my son Timmy came home from his work and said “The roads were a mess.” I just walked our dog Buddy Guy, and it was 40° and clear, so I could not bring myself to heed the warning. It started to rain and freeze, so when I left I had to concur. The roads sucked. When I got to the place, I damn near killed myself trying to bring gear in because of the sheet of ice in the parking lot. I got everything set up and ready to go at 5:59 and started at 6pm. After looking at all the people in the place (only the two staffers and no customers or guests), I strummed my first chords and started singing “California Dreaming.” I was playing to no one (the staff was in the back room)!
Now I have to tell you, I marketed the heck out of this. I created a Facebook event in my Dough! Facebook page with over 300 fans. I shared it to my wall. I sent an emails to my Dough Fans list. So starting out my gig to an empty room felt like such a failure. I let down the place because I could not bring in an audience, and was feeling bummed because doing a solo gig did not have the draw as the two man band. I was feeling like a failure.
From a blog post perspective and I broke my own rules. What you see above fails also because I used “I” 25 times in almost 300 words but bear with me. It's not about me… It's about YOU!
What is your perfect audience?
Is it tens, hundreds, thousands, millions?
- Stop Shouting! – We can try time and time again to broadcast about our book, seminar, new business, service or product… but to what end or result? This is no longer an advertising economy, it's a search and find economy. If people want something they Google it. You have to find a way to be in that wave. Find ways to post stuff that shows up in searches… just shouting in social media is… well SHOUTING!
- Start Communicating! – I failed. Not by communicating the event, but by NOT communicating right before it. Let's face it… the weather sucked. If I would have posted before I left for the gig “I know the weather is dangerous so stay home” would I have gotten a bigger crowd? Maybe I would have started a conversation with those who were thinking of coming, but were too afraid to? Well heck yeah. I missed an opportunity to communicate and I am sure people would have said “I would have love to come but…”, “Be careful out there”, and “Rock On Bro”… but I missed the opportunity to create those conversations being too self absorbed about bringing a crowd.
- Ask Them What they Want? – Once those conversations were started, I missed the opportunity to ask those who communicated with me what they want. “Was this the right night for you?”, “Was this the right venue for you?”, “Was it the solo gig that kept you away or the weather?”, “Do you have a connection to another place you would like to see us?”, or any number of other questions. When people spend the time to communicate with you, you owe it to them to acknowledge and continue the conversation as much as they are comfortable with!
Back to my gig. The first two people that showed up was my sister and brother-in-law. The second was two people who I did not know, but came in with a purpose to spend time with each other and I was just entertainment. It was a small but attentive audience. They wanted entertainment and the establishment was paying me to do just that. I just played and sang song after song. There was the occasional applause, but more importantly, the music met their needs. It gave them an opportunity to have a night out and converse with each other and all of a sudden, I started to feel the need and purpose of my job… and I know the people at the wine bar knew I did what they asked me to do what they were paying me to do in some very unfortunate weather conditions, and were very gracious!
Then It hit me…
It was one of the best audiences I have ever had. The first two came in because they loved me, and I loved them! At one point in my life I was homeless. At that very vulnerable time, my sister and brother-in-law took me in not only once, but twice. During that second chance, I reinvented myself as a person and as a musician. They tolerated me listening to songs and trying to work out the chords on guitar. One of them was “Old Love” by Eric Clapton. I was compelled to play that along with some of Barb and Gary's favorites as they have seen us over the last 15 years! I had the chance of a lifetime to let them know that their belief in me, and efforts, paid off and paid them back with the best performance I could give.
It's not always about how big the audience is… but how they feel about you, and how you feel about them… that counts!
Know and Appreciate Your Audience
Your thoughts or comments?